This just in from Bob Montgomery, owner of The Nugget restaurant at 2318 Lillie Avenue in Summerland:


Thought your and our customers should know that we partially opened last Tuesday, January 16 as we couldn’t round up a full  crew and had some problems with deliveries. But now were really bucking along at a full gallop. Only thing we might be missing is our Friday/Saturday Prime Rib $25.95 Special this week. Anyway we sure would like to see all our regulars and any new customers looking for a great roundup, hardy drinks, great food and friendly old fashion service.


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Bottle Shop, 1200 Coast Village Rd – open
The Honor Bar, 1255 Coast Village Rd – open
The Honor Market, 1255 Coast Village Rd – open
Vons, 1040 Coast Village Rd – open

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Reader SantaBarbarian shares some thoughts:

The best way to help –by FAR– is simply patronize your favorite restaurants, especially the local independent ones that don’t have the ability to tap other resources have during these incredibly challenging times.

Have your board members authorize gift card purchases and distribute to evacuees/first responders. I’m sure they’d love to just go out for a bite with friends/family, order what they’d like, go at the time they want and not worry about the cost.

By dining out you are helping keep our locals employed. Meeting payroll is the biggest challenge (for a restaurant not otherwise harmed by our recent catastrophes, obviously). Of course those that do routinely provide large ‘to-go’ orders would love it if you were to purchase, pick-up and deliver their food to a charitable event

For those that don’t, though, dining in their restaurant allows them to ‘do what they normally do’ (rather try to orchestrate a large to-go/buffet/catering event they may not be equipped to do). Plus, you’ll also be providing the added emotional benefit for restaurant staff to see people coming into their restaurant– after so many days of closed/empty seats– and provide hospitality once again. A welcome sense of normalcy returning.

Lastly, dining out will put sales tax revenue back in play (as opposed to the write-off of a donation) which, frankly, the City of SB is going to be desperate for once the accounting for lost retail, sales and ‘bed tax’ revenues during this unprecedented event is completed.



This just in from reader Tony: “Interesting development. Alcohol license notice at the Metro theaters at the Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta!”



Here is a tip from reader Lindsey: “Hi John, I love your blog and have been following it for the past 3 yrs we’ve lived here. There’s a sign out for a ‘Vegan Green’ restaurant at 3613 State Street in the old location of Miso Hungry.”

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Reader Brendan let me know that Harry’s Plaza Café at 3313 State Street is having an eye-popping deal as a 50th anniversary special all through the month of January. Any day Sunday through Thursday, you can get a plate of Omaha slow-roasted tri-tip with fries and salad for $8. No substitutions or take-outs.

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Reader Brendan also says that Mundos (at Canon Perdido and Milpas, the building with the cow), has a sign on the door that says: “Under the tragedy of the Thomas fire in December that caused us a financial set back, we had to take the difficult decision to close temporarily our lunch starting Monday, January 15th.” The sign says they will still be open for dinner Monday-Saturday 5-9pm.

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With the opening of Coast Village Road for the first time since January 9th, we should see a return of many restaurants and coffee shops. I’ll post names of businesses that have reopened as I hear about them.

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This just in from reader Jessica:

Hi John,

A couple nonprofits I’m on the board of would love to help local restaurants. I figure you’re the guy to ask: do you know of any local restaurants that have been particularly hard hit by the fire/mudslides for which we could provide funds to host a buffet-style meal for evacuees and first responders? Just trying to do the most good!


Feel free to send a private email to and I will forward it to Jessica.

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FIRE AT ALPHIE’S reports that firefighters put out a kitchen fire in Alphie’s Restaurant in Old Town Goleta on January 14th. I’m told that crews arrived to 5725 Hollister Ave at 4:35 p.m. after a report of a commercial building fire and discovered smoke and flames in the front of the restaurant, originating in the kitchen. The fire was quickly knocked down, said Santa Barbara County Fire Department Public Information Officer Mike Eliason. No injuries were reported and an investigator is looking into the cause of the fire.



Until the end of January, Mesa Burger at 315 Meigs Road is offering free meals to evacuees of the horrific Montecito floods. Mesa Burger had run an earlier promotion where 50% of all proceeds went to Direct Relief. Mesa Burger is open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thanks to reader Nicole for the tip.

If you know of any other local restaurants helping evacuees please leave a note here.

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Last weekend I was at the life celebration of Mel’s Lounge and Pascucci restaurant’s beloved bartender Sunny Quinn who lost her battle with cancer last December. While talking with several of the hundreds of people in attendance I was told a few things about the restaurants at San Ysidro Ranch at 900 San Ysidro Lane which suffered extreme damage from debris flow during the tragic January 9th floods in Montecito. None of the information I received has been confirmed. Though an official map of damage to the area designates as “destroyed” the building that is the home of Stone House and Plow & Angel, I am told that the Stone House building is NOT destroyed which would be a relief to many fans of the popular venue. I was also told that San Ysidro Ranch owner, billionaire Ty Warner, is continuing to pay full salary, including tips, to restaurant staff. That is amazing if true.

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With the reopening of the 101 freeway and Coast Village Road, Stella Mare’s Bistro at 50 Los Patos Way is one of many restaurants in the Montecito area to try to make a comeback after the devastating floods and debris flows. I spoke with Danny Casillas, manager at sister restaurant Cafe Stella who told me that owner Philippe Rousseau hopes to be back in business Thursday, January 25th. “Thank you everyone who have reached out to us and thank you for your support, ” said Rousseau. “Stella Mare’s and our staff are all safe and the restaurant suffered very little damage, but there is so much destruction and personal tragedy around us in our community. Many thanks to the first responders, volunteers and anyone working so hard since this tragedy occurred. Thank you for their tireless efforts. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all our friends and neighbors! Our staff is anxious to get back to work and we are looking forward to see all your familiar faces!”

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After the devastating floods in Montecito, where I was raised, with so much death and wide-spread destruction, I found it difficult to write anything about restaurants. It felt almost disrespectful to “move on” right after an unexpected tragedy that is off the scale of imagination. But we will continue, and never forget. My parents were stranded in their home near Olive Mill Road then forced to evacuate (for weeks, perhaps months) but we feel incredibly lucky. Through random chance, Montecito Creek overflowed a little more that way than this way and it is the only reason they are alive. It is the only reason they still have a home. That is windfall of good fortune considering so many others lost everything.

The morning of the floods, unlabeled photos of the damage were posted online. Being familiar with the area and recognizing the hardly recognizable, I created a series of before & after photos. This is just a small peek at the immense destruction in Montecito. They cannot even begin to convey the agony of those involved.

The horrific floods and Thomas Fire are taking a heavy toll on local businesses with many reporting the loss of critical revenue in December, one of the biggest shopping months of the year, with the losses continuing in January. Restaurants and supporting businesses have been hit particularly hard. Most, if not all, Montecito restaurants are closed. The City of Santa Barbara is working with business organizations to support recovery efforts for merchants impacted by the fire and flood.

With a federal disaster declaration approved, the City is working with the County Office of Emergency Management, and state and federal legislative officials to identify whether businesses are eligible for assistance. This is particularly challenging for our area because while businesses were significantly impacted through a lack of pedestrian traffic, they were not physically destroyed which is a key marker for disaster relief.

Tourism has also been deeply impacted with freeway closures and fewer overnight visits, after dramatic videos and photos of flood damage and flames reached a worldwide audience. How can you help? Simply dine at local restaurants and shop at local businesses. Many stores have re-opened with special offers and promotions. Support the community’s economic vitality by taking your loved ones out for a meal. Your dollars will keep South Coast merchants in business so the community can continue to thrive.



The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department issued a closure order on Wednesday for all restaurants, markets, and other food businesses affected by the Boil Water Notice.

Following Tuesday’s powerful storm, a boil water advisory was issued for the communities of Montecito and Summerland and other areas served by the Montecito Water District.

Food facilities that are subject to the Boil Water Notice but have power through a generator or electrical grid may remain open to sell unopened prepackaged foods only, the Public Health Department said. However, these businesses cannot prepare, handle, or serve any open foods that include fresh produce until the Boil Water Notice is lifted.

Businesses that have questions should call the health department’s Environmental Health Services division at 805-681-4900 during business hours, or 805-896-4443 after business hours.



Mel’s Lounge and Pascucci restaurant’s beloved bartender Sunny Quinn lost her battle with cancer. I had the privilege of working side by side with her for several fundraisers during her years at Pascucci. Sunny was a total professional and a positive life force, loved by many. Here is a message about a service to be held later this month:

“Please join us for a Celebration of Life picnic honoring Sunny Quinn on January 21, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at Oak Park in the Sycamore picnic area. We will be gathering to share our favorite memories of our wonderful mother, grandmother and friend Sunny. Please bring a dish to share along with your best stories of Sunny. In lieu of flowers, Sunny requested that donations be made to the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara in her memory.



Change is in the works at Nectar, located downtown at 20 East Cota Street. Here is a message to you from owner Brad Sherman:

“Nectar Eatery & lounge has temporarily closed its doors to regroup and rebrand. Stay tuned!”

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This just in from owner Laura Knight:

“Hi John, I’m saddened to let you know that we have closed our Goleta location, New Years Eve was our last night, just 1 month shy of 2 years. The Goleta market proved to be more of a challenge than we had anticipated. I look back at things I might have done differently but can’t. I am going to focus all of my energy on our downtown location, where we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this spring! I’ll be sending you information about promotions we will be offering for our many loyal customers.”



Reader David spotted a sign at The 805 Deli at 135 East Carrillo Street:

“For all our customers, 805 Deli will be closed for the month of January for remodeling. We will be open February first. Check out our next location, Presidio Market,  between Santa Barbara and Victoria (corner). Good food. Thanks for your understanding!”

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Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks, coming in February to La Cumbre Plaza at 3825 State Street (formerly Marmalade Café and Red Robin), has 120 positions to fill in a very short time and are hiring now for all positions. Here is official application information:

Do you have a passion for great food?
Do you love to work in an energetic and fun environment?
Do you love to be part of a team?
If so, then we want to meet you!

Islands Restaurants is opening a brand new restaurant in Santa Barbara and we are looking for enthusiastic and outgoing people to join our team. For 35 years Islands Restaurants has been a Southern California tradition, providing our guests with great drinks, fine burgers, salads, tacos, and our famous fresh cut fries. The Islands lifestyle provides an upbeat, social and fun working environment that invites connection with guests and team members. We work hard, and get rewarded for it too! Islands puts on annual employee events such as basketball, softball, soccer, and volleyball tournaments that satisfy our competitive craving. You’ll have so much fun at work you will think you are on vacation!

We are hiring for ALL POSITIONS!!!

What’s in it for you?
• Competitive earning opportunities with room for advancement
• Flexible scheduling – full and part time
• Free meal during shift and 50% dining discount when dining as a guest
• Quality training and support with your personal development
• Quarterly company sponsored basketball, softball, and volleyball tournaments

Stop by and see how good life can be at Islands! We would love to meet you. Apply online at  At the bottom of the page click the link that says “Join our team.”

3825 State Street E-149
Santa Barbara, Ca. 93105
(805) 946-0044



I was talking to one of the staff inside Albertsons market at 7127 Hollister Avenue in Goleta (next to Costco) and she told me that the flower department near the front of the store will transform into a Starbucks in the next few months.



Readers tell me that something’s up at Our Daily Bread, 2700 De la Vina Street:

  • Reader Jan T: “John, there’s a rumor that Our Daily Bread has closed. Can that be true? I hope not!”
  • Reader Peter: “John, Our Daily Bread  bakery/restaurant appears to be closed. Sign on window announcing same and a peek in the window reveals empty shelves and the like.”
  • Reader Patrick: “John, there’s a sign in the window of Our Daily Bread that they have closed the Cafe but that the wholesale bakery will remain open.”
  • Reader Suzanne: “I saw a sign on the door at Our Daily Bread that their cafe is now closed, though they remain open for their wholesale bread accounts.  Do you have any inside information about whether or not they plan to make a comeback?  I wonder if this closure is also due to the fire, like it was for C’est Cheese Cafe.”


Reader Annie says that Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks, coming to La Cumbre Plaza at 3825 State Street (formerly Marmalade Café and Red Robin), has a sign up saying they are now hiring and will open in February 2018. Islands restaurant is a casual, dining restaurant chain that specializes in burgers, fresh cut fries, and specialty drinks. Their tropical-themed restaurant brings in the “Ohana” (family) feel to the restaurant’s environment. Despite being known for their burgers and fries, various other types of food are also offered, such as tacos, chicken sandwiches, and multiple entree salads. The company was founded in May 1982 by entrepreneur and surfer Tony DeGrazier in West Los Angeles and currently has more than 50 locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii. The company is based in Carlsbad and does not franchise out locations.

Islands restaurant in La Cumbre Plaza



Reader Annie also says that Restaurant Connection’s Facebook page says that they now offer Wildwood Kitchen and Shalhoob’s Funk Zone Patio for delivery.

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Starbucks at State and Cota (539 State Street) closed for a complete remodel and I am told is now open for business.

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Word on the street is that the Magic Castle, coming to the former home of Café del Sol in Montecito may open as soon as February. Magic Castle is the clubhouse of the Academy of Magical Arts, is private, allowing entrance only to members and their guests. A typical evening features magic shows that range from miracles right under your nose to full stage illusions. The Castle is full of rare memorabilia there’s also a critically acclaimed, full-service dining room. As a teenager, The Restaurant Guy put on magic shows for many a birthday party. Do you think they will let me in?

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The Thomas Fire hit local businesses hard when potential customers stayed away to avoid the ash and smoke permeating the South Coast. Even ever-popular C’est Cheese at 825 Santa Barbara Street was unable to escape the slowdown in traffic. Based on a tip from reader Dad, I called the restaurant and was told that the café portion of C’est Cheese is indeed closed. A note about it is published on their web site “It is with great sadness, however, that due to the effects of the Thomas Fire that we must announce the indefinite closure of the C’est Cheese Café.” I’m told that they will reassess the situation in early 2018. The main cheese store continues to be open along with the catering service. The café was added to C’est Cheese in May, 2014.

Started in 2003 by Michael and Kathryn Graham, C’est Cheese has built up a large and loyal fan base. Many restaurants source all of their cheeses at C’est Cheese and they have a regular following of people who come in every week or two to get their cheeses. Saturday is their biggest day.

Owners Michael and Kathryn Graham at the opening of C’est Café in May, 2014



My foodie duties for the year wouldn’t be complete without summarizing activity at food & drink destinations on the South Coast. In 2017 there were 50 openings and 38 closings across the South Coast. The most openings were in September (13) while the most closings were in January (5). September’s 13 openings are the most in a single month since I started tracking restaurant statistics in 2007.

OPENINGS:  American (11), Japanese (5), Mediterranean (5), Mexican (5), Chinese (4), Coffee (2), Italian (2), Latin American (2), Pizza (2),  Bakery(1), Greek (1), Hot Dog (1), Korean (1), Market (1), Middle Eastern (1), Seafood (1), Spanish (1), Thai (1), Tropical (1), Vegetarian (1) – Bar 29, Basil’s, Bear and Star, Big Eye Raw Bar, Blackbird, Ca’Dario Pizzeria Veloce, Cajun Kitchen – Calle Real, Craft Raman, Dave’s Dogs, Dumpling King, Foxtail Kitchen and Bar, Gimeal Café, Goat Tree, Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, Guichos Eatery, Handlebar Coffee – De la Vina, Hilton Garden Inn, HiWi Tropical Fusion, Kyle’s Kitchen – Hollister, Kyle’s Kitchen – Downtown, La Hacienda, Lao Ma Tou, Lao Wang, Los Arroyos – Goleta, Luna Grill, Meun Fan Thai Café – Goleta, Miso Hungry, Mosto Crudo, Mundos, Oat Bakery, Oliver’s, Petros Kafe – Solvang, PokeCeviche, Poki Rito, Rincon Brewery – Isla Vista, Rudy’s – downtown, Rusty’s Pizza – Hollister, Santo Mezcal, Shalhoob Meat Co. Patio, Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill, Smithy, Starbucks – UCSB, Sun Sushi, Sunny Korean Restaurant, Tangonadas, The Deck, The Little Door, The Patio Café, Urkeb, Worker Bee Café – Goleta

CLOSINGS: American (11), Mexican (6), Pizza (4), Italian (3), Burger (2), Coffee (2), Bakery (1), BBQ (1), Greek (1), Japanese (1), Latin American (1), Market (1), Mediterranean (1), Seafood (1), Southern (1), Steakhouse (1) – American Ale 02, Barbarians Pizza, Blush Restaurant and Lounge, Bucatini, Burger Bus, Caffe Primo, Cantwell’s Summerland Market, Downey’s, Eladio’s, Giovanni’s – Isla Vista, I’a Fish Market and Café, Kol’s Cafe, Mama’s Bakery, Miso Hungry, Nugget – Carpinteria, OTaco, Outback Steakhouse, Oveja Blanca Restaurante, Paloma Restaurant and Tequila Bar, Papa Johns Pizza, Petros – Los Olivos, Rebar Coffee, Rusty’s Pizza – Turnpike, Sage & Onion Cafe, Santa Ynez Burrito – Isla Vista, Silvergreens – Downtown, Somerset, Stacky’s Seaside, Taqueria La Colmena, Terraza Café, The Cantina, The Mex Authentic, Tupelo Junction Cafe, Zizzo’s Coffeehouse & Brew Pub in Hollister Village

FLASH IN THE PAN: Every year since I started tracking restaurant statistics in 2007 I gather a list of restaurants that both opened and closed in the same year. For the first time, every restaurant that opened this year stayed open all year! The closest we had to a Flash in the Pan is Somerset restaurant which opened 2 weeks before New Years Day 2017 and closed in October.

FALLEN ICONS: Santa Barbara lost several long-time local restaurants: Aldo’s Italian Restaurant, Bucatini, Downey’s, Eladio’s, Giovanni’s Isla Vista, Outback Steakhouse, Stacky’s Seaside, The Cantina Isla Vista, and Tupelo Junction Café.

TOP TEN FOOD NEWS STORIES: Usually I include a list of the top ten news stories but my stats software stopped tracking blog traffic early in the year and I never noticed. Major fail!



Reader Joe Dirt says that Chef Jessi Singh and partner Jennifer Singh will open a new downtown restaurant called Bibi Ji at 734 State Street, the former home of Relais de Paris and Ruby’s Cafe & Spirits Lounge. I’m told that restaurant will offer Indian cuisine and will open in early 2018.  Bibi Ji is named after an endearing Hindi term for women in the family, intended to pay homage to the women in both Jessi and Jennifer’s lives. I’m hearing that the Singhs are partnering with wine expert Rajat Parr.

The website says that the Singhs recently closed their similarly-named Babu Ji restaurant in San Francisco after about a year of operation. also says the duo opened a highly regarded Babu Ji in New York City’s East Village back in 2014 to wide acclaim before it ultimately shuttered after the Singhs were hit with two wage-related lawsuits. says the Singhs reopened Babu Ji in New York City in July 2017 with a new partner and that it’s still in operation.

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Reader Annie sent me this message:

Dickey’s BBQ in Goleta has closed as of this past weekend. Rep said the location was not good.”

I tried calling Dickey’s Barbecue Pit at 7060 Hollister Avenue in Goleta and was only able to reach their voice mail. When I visited their web site, it no longer lists any locations on the South Coast and says the closest restaurant is in Ventura. The web site for Hollister Village Plaza, where Dickey’s is located, still says the restaurant is open for business as usual so I’ll leave it up to you to make the final call on what is really happening. Dickey’s opened in September 2016.